Urinary Tract Health- Cranberry & D-Mannose
Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D. R.N. THE NATURAL NURSE
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) - we've all
heard of the discomfort associated with this common
health issue and many people are unfortunate
enough to understand the symptoms personally,
since they have experienced it themselves!
Painful urination, burning, tenderness and
dull aches are common symptoms, and may also be
accompanied by chills, fever, lower back pain and
nausea. Symptoms can vary depending upon the
severity of the infection and the strength of the individual's
immune system. The American Journal Of
Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that the incidence
of UTIs increases after menopause, probably
due to estrogen depletion, bladder or uterine prolapse, and the increased use
of pharmaceutical drugs.
Men can also fall victim to UTI's and experience many of the same
symptoms. Several organisms may be implicated in the development of UTIs,
including e.coli (80 %), proteus, klebsiella, enterobacter, pseudomonas, serratia
and others. It is possible for other kinds of organisms to also be involved
such as parasites (echinococcus), protozoa (trichomonas) and yeasts (candida
Under normal conditions, a thin film of urine normally remains in the
bladder after urination. Any bacteria are removed by organic acids produced
by the mucosal lining of the bladder. If there is any kind of interference in this
mechanism, which may be due to infections, stress, or holding urine too long,
a urinary tract infection can result. There are two general types of UTIs: Lower
UTIs in the bladder and urethra and Upper UTI which effects the ureters and
One of the goals of treatment is to stop the progression of infection
from the lower to the upper areas. While doctors jump to prescribe antibiotics,
these drugs can cause adverse effects, including a secondary yeast infection, as
well as repeated urinary tract infections due to the development of resistant
strains of bacteria. In a severe infection, antibiotics may be necessary to avoid
the more serious condition of a kidney infection. Always speak to your physician
for guidance for all health problems.
There are many lifestyle chooses that can help avoid getting a urinary
tract infection. Here are a few: don't hold urine in; go to the bathroom as soon
as you feel an urge to go; use toilet paper from front to back; wash hands
before leaving a bathroom because e.coli contaminate bathroom fixtures;
avoid irritating the area with highly perfumed bath products and toilet paper;
wear loose cotton underwear; use of spermacides and lubricants can increase
the risk of UTIs.
Exercise can keep the pelvic floor muscles toned, which increases circulation
and improves lymphatic flow. This also helps to deter the development
of prolapsed bladder. Kegel exercises improve the tone of the muscular
sling and prevents bladder prolapse and urethral obstruction. To perform the
kegel exercise, attempt to stop the urine stream and isolate the muscle that
allows you to do this. Then concentrate on doing the kegel several times a day
while sitting or standing. In many cases, natural therapies can ease symptoms.
One of the best places to start is with the well-known urinary-healthy
fruit-Cranberry. Studies have proven that cranberry is quite effective in preventing
bacteria from adhering to mucous membranes. Cranberry's efficacy
was touted in the widely respected Cochrane Database in Jan. 2008 in a study
called "Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections." This action has
both preventative and therapeutic benefits for urinary tract infections. Both the
natural fructose found in cranberry and specific proanthocyanadins have been
shown to block the bacteria from being able to wrap appendages around the
edges of the lining of the bladder. Its best to use pure cranberry capsules, or
UNSWEETENED cranberry juice. Commercial cranberry juice with lots of
sugar, or, worse yet, "sugar free" cranberry juice with artificial sweeteners is
NOT the kind to use to help a UTI!
Another well-studied supplement that is helpful for urinary tract
infections is an isolated active ingredient call D-mannose. D-mannose has a
slightly different mechanism of action than whole cranberry. D-Mannose acts
as a 'decoy sugar' and attracts micro-organisms away from the bladder lining.
Together, D-Mannose and Cranberry can work together as a dynamic duo, supporting
urinary tract wellness. It's important to use the right amount of DMannose.
If you are selecting a product, read the milligram amounts in the
supplement fact box. Many studies have focused on the use of 4000 mg-5000
mg per dose for best results. However, many products offer only 250-1000 mg
per dose, which may not be enough to be effective.
In addition to Cranberry and D-Mannose, other herbs have been used
traditionally in societies around to world to help with UTIs. These include
Oregon Grape Root, Couch grass, Juniper berries, Golden Seal and Uva Ursi.
Garlic, Hawthorne and Parsley can also be supportive in re-establishing urinary
Ellen Kamhi PhD RN, The Natural Nurse(r), can be heard on radio daily.
She is the author of several books, including THE NATURAL MEDICINE
CHEST. Dr. Kamhi has been involved in natural health care for over 4 decades.
She answers consumer questions at www.naturesanswer.com, and has a private
practice on Long Island. Visit www.naturalnurse.com or call 800-829-0918